The Better Business Bureau recently received a report from a Pennsylvania woman who left a message on the voice mail system of a contractor seeking to hire them to fix broken concrete on her parents’ porch and steps. Shortly thereafter she received a text message that appeared to be from the contractor asking her to send a photo of the porch and steps along with a $50 deposit that they requested be sent by Venmo. This text was followed up with another request for payment of half of the total repair cost before the contracts could be finalized. At this point the woman became skeptical and called the contractor back and discovered that the telephone number sending the text messages to her was not that of the contractor. What had happened was the contractor’s voice mail system had gotten hacked so that when people left messages, the scammer received them and responded with text messages such as the one the woman had received.
Businesses should make sure that they are not using the default voicemail PIN or passcode, but rather change the PIN or passcode to something complex and secure. Scammers are able to easily determine the default PINs and passcodes of voice mail systems and easily hack into them as was done in this case.
As for consumers, if you get a call back or a text message after leaving a voice mail message at a business, make sure that the number from which the call or text message originated is actually that of the business you called. In addition, another indication that this particular text message was a scam was that they requested payment by Venmo. You should never use Venmo, Zelle or other payment apps for business purposes. The risk of losing your money is too great. Also no legitimate business will ask for payment by gift cards although scammers often do because they are offer little or no protection for the consumer in the event of fraud.
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